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Philosophy and History of Science

Code: EC611     Acronym: EC611

Classification Keyword
OFICIAL Science Teaching

Instance: 2019/2020 - 1S Ícone do Moodle

Active? Yes
Responsible unit: Science Education Unit
Course/CS Responsible: Doctor's Degree in Teaching and Dissemination of Science

Cycles of Study/Courses

Acronym No. of Students Study Plan Curricular Years Credits UCN Credits ECTS Contact hours Total Time
PDEDC 11 PE PD em Ensino e Divulgação das Ciências 1 - 9 35 243

Teaching Staff - Responsibilities

Teacher Responsibility
João Carlos de Matos Paiva

Teaching language



Philosophy of Science Module

To understand nature of science in middle age, in modern age and in contemporary age.

To know and to critically analyze diverse philosophical conceptions and problems related to the construction of scientific knowledge.

To develop a broader and critically conception about the development of scientific knowledge.

To discuss about the importance of nature of science in science teaching.


History of Biology Module

To study the major lines of evolution of the biological thought, from Antiquity to Enlightenment.

To analyze the interactions between biological sciences and the other sciences, and society.


History of Geology Module

To discuss the great geology controversies.

To analyze the alignment of history of Geology in national curricula and textbook.


History of Mathematics Module

To understand the evolution of mathematical concepts, within the historical context.


History of Astronomy Module

Characterize, from a historical perspective, how mankind has acquired astronomical knowledge over time

Realize the importance of astronomy, and particularly cosmology, in the historical and cultural evolution of mankind and in the development of civilizations

Understand that cosmological questions vary from time to time and from culture to culture, but that all civilization wants to find out a certain order in the universe to make it understandable

Frame the origins of modern astronomy and cosmology in a historical environment of cultural revolution, which has brought new scientific concepts to the physical and mathematical tools.


History of Chemistry Module

To analyze the evolutionary perspective of the History of Chemistry and its consequences in teaching and dissemination.

To understand the great benchmarks, relevant names and events in the History of Chemistry.

To recognize the importance and the relevant role of alchemy, as pre chemistry activity.

To reflect about chemistry as a central science under the light of contemporaneous science philosophy.


History of Physics Module

To introduce to students the main aspects of the history of science in what concerns physics.

Learning outcomes and competences


To know and to critically analyse contributions from the history of science and philosophy of science in the constrution of scienctific knowledge and its reflexion in science teaching.

Working method



 Philosophy of Science Module

Empiricism and rationalism.

Positivism and post-positivism.

Conceptions of science and categories.

Contemporary conceptions about the nature of science.

The thesis of Karl Popper.

The thesis of Thomas Khun.

The thesis of Imre Lakatos.

The thesis of Larry Laudan.

Epistemological and historical contributions to the construction of scientific knowledge.

Some topics on Science and Religion

The nature of science in science teaching.


History of Biology Module

Introduction to the study of the history of biology. Sources for study. Primary and secondary sources.

The great naturalists of Antiquity.

Biology in the Renaissance. New looks on natural history.

Iberian overseas expansion and new botanical knowledge.

Evolution of the biological nomenclature and plant classification systems through time.

Followers and opponents to the Linnean revolution. Evolution of the species and genus concepts.

The great scientific expeditions of the Enlightenment – aims and actions.


History of Geology Module

Brief evolutive perspective of History of Geology

The great geologic controversies.

The History of Science (Geology) in curricula.


History of Mathematics Module

Pre-Euclidean Mathematics. The concepts of number and magnitude in ancient Greece.

The works of Euclid and Archimedes.

Medieval Algebra (Islam) and Renaissance Mathematics (Europe).

Analytic Geometry (Fermat and Descartes).

Methods of drawing tangent lines. Fermat's method of maxima and minima.

The beginning of probability theory.

Calculus (Newton and Leibniz).


History of Astronomy Module

Very Early Astronomy

Astronomy in Ancient Greece

The Geocentric Universe: From Greece to the Late Middle Ages

The Heliocentric Revolution

From Galileo's Astronomy to the Discovery of Neptune

The Astronomy of the Universe of Stars

The Birth of Astrophysics

The Major Developments of the First Half of the Twentieth Century


History of Chemistry Module

Great chronological benchmarks in the History of Chemistry

Relevant names and events in the History of Chemistry

The particular case of alchemy as pre chemistry activity

General facts about philosophy and history of chemistry

Chemistry as a central science under the light of contemporaneous science philosophy


History of Physics Module

Newton's Mechanics

The unification of electromagnetism and optics in the nineteenth century

The Laws of Thermodynamics

Macrocosm and microcosm: statistical mechanics

Special and General Relativity

Quantum Mechanics

Developments subsequent to the second half of the twentieth century: gauge theories, quantum field theory and the necessary and still incomplete synthesis of general relativity with quantum mechanics (quantum gravity).

Mandatory literature

Lucena, A. D.; Filosofia de la Ciencia, Malága: Biblioteca Nueva, 2005
Chalmers, A.; What is this thing called sciene?, Buckingham: Open University Press., 1999
Guerra, A: Freitas, J.; Reis, J. C. & Braga. M. ; Galileu e o nascimento da Ciência Moderna., São Paulo: Atual Editora., 2004
Fitas, A. ; Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos. Três formas diferentes de entender a Ciência, Vértice, 2ª série, 4 : 69-77., 1988
Barbour Ian G.; Religion in an age of science. ISBN: 9780060603830

Comments from the literature


Other Bibliography

History of Biology Module

Greene, Edward Lee (1909) Landmarks of botanical history. Washington, Smithsonian institution.

De Wit, H. C. D.(1993) Histoire du development de la biologie. Três volumes. PPUR & EPFL Press

Magnin-Gonze, J. (2006) Histoire de la botanique. Delachaux et Niestlé.

Allorge, Lucile (2009) La fabuleuse odyssée des plantes. Hachette Pluriel Reference.


History of Geology Module

Amador, F. & Contenças, P. (2001). História da Biologia e da Geologia. Lisboa: Universidade Aberta.

Amador, F. & Pereira, A. I. (2007). A História da Ciência em manuais escolares de Ciências da Natureza.Revista Electrónica de Enseñanza de las Ciencias 6,1 (191- 216).

Hallam, A. (1992). Great Geological Controversies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


History of Mathematics Module

A History of Mathematics, V. J. Katz, Addison-Wesley.

História da Matemática, M. F. Estrada, C. de Sá, J. F. Queiró et al, Universidade Aberta.


History of Astronomy Module   

Michael Hoskin, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Astronomy, Cambridge University Press (1997)


History of Chemistry Module

Philosophy of Chemistry : Synthesis of a New Discipline, Davis Baird, Eric Scerri, Lee McIntyre (eds.), Dordrecht: Springer, 2006.

Bensaude-Vincent, Bernadette & Stengers, Isabelle. História da Química. Lisboa: Instituto Piaget, 1996.


History of Physics Module

O Livros das Escolhas Cósmicas, Orfeu Bertolami (Editora Gradiva, 2006)

Teaching methods and learning activities

Diverse strategies: PowerPoint presentations, reading and discussion of articles, lectures, group and investigation work, presentation of works and debates.

Evaluation Type

Distributed evaluation without final exam

Assessment Components

designation Weight (%)
Participação presencial 50,00
Trabalho escrito 50,00
Total: 100,00

Amount of time allocated to each course unit

designation Time (hours)
Estudo autónomo 171,00
Frequência das aulas 35,00
Trabalho escrito 37,00
Total: 243,00

Eligibility for exams

In accordance with UP Regulation.

Calculation formula of final grade

Final classification: 50% of the result in the work done in Philosophy of Science Module and 25% in each work done in both  History of Science Modules chosen by the students.


Educational resources available in Sigarra.

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